Tri-Mack Plastics Manufacturing Corporation, a molder of high temperature engineering thermoplastics located in Bristol, Rhode Island, the US, has used carbon fiber composite made from VICTREX PEEK polymer to produce brackets for use in aircraft structural applications. As said, up to 70% weight is reduced compared to metals such as stainless steel, aluminum and titanium. Faster cycle times are also achieved compared to thermosets.
“Thermoset composite parts typically take several hours to complete,” said Tom Kneath, Director of Sales and Marketing at Tri-Mack. “The VICTREX PEEK thermoplastic composite brackets have manufacturing cycle times measured in minutes. That speed, paired with the ability to recycle the material for other applications, takes us to a whole new level of processing efficiency that isn’t achievable with thermosets.” According to the UK-based Victrex, thermoplastic composites made from VICTREX PEEK can provide the chemical and corrosion resistance to jet fuel, hydraulic fluid, de-icing solution, salt, steam, water and other commonly used service fluids that would undermine the longevity of metals.
“VICTREX PEEK composites can offer between four and five times higher fatigue strength, specific stiffness, and specific strength when compared to traditional metals such as aluminum,” said Ralf Weidig, Composites Business Leader for Victrex. “These mechanical properties along with vibration and noise dampening improvements make VICTREX PEEK composites an attractive and viable solution for engineers looking to replace heavy metals and thermosets.”
Based on current fuel prices and studies, the removal of 1kg of weight from a short-range aircraft can save airlines up to US$100 in annual fuel costs, according to Victrex. Assuming that the composite brackets can remove 100kg of weight, an airline with 500 short-range aircraft could save up to US$5 million per year in fuel costs by making the switch from metal.